Divorce Mediation: How it Works

Civil Negotiation and Mediation by Nancy Hudgins

I just got off the phone with a party interested in mediation. He asked me to tell him something about the process.

I co-mediate divorces with John Duda, M.F.T., a family and couples therapist who practices on the peninsula south of San Francisco. John and I appreciate the collaborative aspect of our mediation practice. Our clients tell us they appreciate the male-female, therapist-lawyer perspectives we bring.

Divorce mediation sessions usually center on the main decisions which couples need to make. These decisions include:

Division of Assets and Liabilities:

+Residences: whether the house will be sold to a third party or whether one spouse can afford to buy out the other and remain in the house or some other arrangement that makes sense to the parties;

+Stuff: how the cars and household furnishings and stuff will be divided up;

+Businesses: how businesses will be evaluated and who will buy whom out;

+Liabilities: what debts are owed and how they will be apportioned;

+Budgeting: what each spouse’s expenses going forward are likely to be;

Spousal Support:

+Whether it’s necessary or wanted, and if so, how much it will be; and,

Child Support:

+Who will pay and how much; what it can include (health insurance, camps, college, etc.).

Parenting Plans:

+How to work out a plan that makes sense for the children, how the kids will split their time, what the transitions from one parent to the other will look like, etc.;

These are big decisions. As mediators we assist couples in coming to understand what their needs are and we help facilitate these forward-looking conversations.

Because these conversations can be hard, we usually schedule a series of two-hour sessions. In each session we work on one of the areas above.

When all of these areas have been discussed and agreements have been made, we draw up a Marital Settlement Agreement and assist the parties in obtaining their divorce decree.


Nancy Hudgins

Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class… MORE >

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